US election could mean movement on high-skill immigration, copyright

Expect debates on cybersecurity, spectrum and privacy in Congress in 2013

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Even if Obama issues an executive order, there will be a push in Congress to pass legislation to deal with issues such as cybersecurity research and development funding and cybersecurity regulations for federal agencies, Richards said.

But with little change in the makeup of Congress, "it's tough to see the path forward" on a comprehensive cybersecurity bill, Nojeim said.

Net neutrality: With control of Congress split between the Democrats in the Senate and the Republicans in the House, it will be difficult for Republicans to overturn the net neutrality rules the U.S. Federal Communications Commission passed in late 2010. Verizon Communications has filed a lawsuit challenging the rules, and a decision is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

So the split Congress cuts both ways. If the D.C. Circuit overturns the net neutrality rules, as many observers predict, it will be difficult for Congress to reinstate them. With Obama's re-election, the Democratic majority at the FCC will remain, but Sohn questioned whether the FCC has the courage to stand up to large carriers, congressional Republicans and the court.

Privacy: Expect some lawmakers to push for legislation that would require mobile carriers and app makers to disclose whether they are tracking users or get permission to do so. Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, and Representative Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, both introduced mobile privacy legislation during the past two years, but neither bill passed.

Obama has also called for Congress to pass a privacy bill of rights, although there's been no progress so far. Some Republicans have raised concerns about online privacy, however, so there may be room for Congress to move forward next year.

With or without legislation, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will continue to work with privacy groups and companies to develop privacy codes of conduct. The NTIA has focused its efforts so far on mobile privacy, where there seems to be the most concern.

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